Does Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner Live Up To Its Name?

Royal Brunei Airline's Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Thanks to my Dad I am a huge aviation geek. I love discovering new airlines, flying new aircrafts, or even just revisit my old favourite – hello Boeing 747-800. Needless to say, when I was emailed about flying with Royal Brunei Airlines to travel on their new Boeing 787 Dreamliner I said yes. There is a lot of new technology in the Dreamliner and my curiosity was piqued and excited for their aircrafts launch in Australia.

Consulting my friend Tyler, an aerospace engineer, he chatted animatedly about his thoughts and the specs of the 787 – it’s the first time using composite materials on a commercial airliner, titanium was used to create a lighter and stronger body, 20% less fuel consumed than the predecessor (Boeing 767), engine nacelles with noise-reducing chevrons… the list went on. While I appreciated the knowledge, I just wanted to answer one question: does the Dreamliner offer a better flight experience?

The Slightly-Biased-Because-I’m-A-Boeing-Fan Review of the Dreamliner 787

Heading straight to the boarding gate I didn’t have time to appreciate the design of the plane when leaving Melbourne Airport. I got a glimpse of the nose and part of a redesigned wing, closer mimicking a bird’s wing, through the partially obstructed window before walking down the jetbridge, following the bright lights towards the smiling Royal Brunei crew. I was so excited I almost forgot to say hello to them!
Though the new plane smell had worn away a little – the 787 has been operating on the Melbourne to London (via. Brunei) route since April – the excitement of the flight was still evident with the crew eagerly sharing their experience onboard and citing that they preferred to work on the Dreamliner over the airlines other planes.



One of the goals for the Dreamliner was to connect passengers to the flying experience through space, lighting and the windows.


One thing you’ll immediately notice is the size of the windows. The Dreamliner‘s windows are 60% bigger than previous models which means no more craning your neck from the aisle seat to see the view outside. Another feature that has disappeared is the window shades; replacing the window shades is electrochromatic window shades which means that at a press of a button the windows seem to haze over and enter what I’d like to refer to as “sunglasses mode”. You can still see out of the windows but the sunlight doesn’t filter in and can adjust it across five levels.

Personally, as a person who needs complete darkness to sleep, these windows weren’t fantastic for a day flight; however, for those wanting to see outside the window throughout the whole flight, this is a great feature.


I thought I’d found something to dislike about the aircraft when I saw how small the overhead baggage compartment looked, but opening it up it was huge! Being redesigned to offer maximum space – Boeing says that each passenger onboard could bring a roll-aboard bag and would still fit comfortably – but the swooping design curves upwards giving the cabin an open, spacious feel.


Boeing also says that the Dreamliner’s new smart LED lighting system will help reduce jet lag through its ambient colour system that imitates the sky and the crew can adjust depending on the situation.
For boarding, Royal Brunei greeted us with a bright blue hues that imitated the natural skies outside. As the cabin dimmed for take-off, the lights danced from blue to a deep bronze and finally a deep violet, before raising the colour from the sky blue  to a warm yellow when meal time came around.
On the second leg of my journey from Brunei to Dubai a crew member accidentally pressed the wrong button after take-off and the lights through the cabin turned into a technicolour dream before quickly being corrected and the light sky blue hues and jokes about “where’s the disco held onboard?” were exchanged between my seat mate and I.

There were two things I noticed as I disembarked in London. One, I didn’t drink as much water as usual on the three flights. Two, the air didn’t have that musty, kinda nasty long-haul flight smell that leaves me gasping in fresh air when landing.
I later found out that the Dreamliner’s cabin environment has some very sophisticated technology allowing for lower altitude levels, higher cabin humidity levels to combat the feeling of dryness by the end of the flights and a better air filtration system to eliminate smells and airborne bacteria.


Features onboard

Along with improving the passengers visual experience onboard the Dreamliner, Boeing have tried to improve onboard comfort for all passengers.

Flying business class meant that once the meals were done I could kick back and watch a film in my lie flat bed. Yes, you read that right, a fully lie flat bed that has a length of just under two metres (that’s 6 feet 5 inches), including the personal ottoman, which comes complete with a very fluffy quilt and pillow designed especially for sleep – ahh.. bliss!
The ottoman was also very handy as the front half lifts up, exposing the storage space below, for easy access to small bags or items throughout the flight..

Royal Brunei Airline's Boeing 787 Dreamliner

The bathrooms are a bit of a treat as well. All bathrooms are equipped with motion sensors on the sink tap and toilet flush. When you flush the toilet, the lid will be released, meaning you won’t come in to find the toilet lid up any more! There’s also a pull down stand for tying shoe laces and for those brave enough there’s also a bidet!

I do think there’s still room to make a few tweaks to the design. I found the power socket and USB port in Business class to be in kind of awkward position. Unlike other airlines putting it at the base of the centre console it’s located in the ‘storage space’ underneath the centre arm rest.
Also, unlike Royal Brunei’s old business class design – which I didn’t have the chance to fly and only seen photos of – there is no pocket to store your tablet or laptop. The storage slots, 2 for each passenger, has been earmarked for ‘literature only’ though under the shared centre console is where Royal Brunei store their inflight magazine Muhibah. To make these four nooks more useful perhaps Royal Brunei could put open-close latches on them so that customers could store a laptop or tablet without worry that it would fall out, or to make it one larger storage ‘locker’ space where passengers could store a small handbag or inflight essentials.

Finally, I thought that there wasn’t a lot of privacy in the business class cabin. Though the seats were more comfortable, though a little more padding would be nice, I do prefer flying in a seat design that offers a little more privacy, particularly when I’m travelling solo, such as the pod-style or herringbone layout some aircrafts have. I know that Qatar’s Boeing 787 Dreamliner offers a business class pod so I’m keen to travel with them to experience the difference.

Additional Thoughts

I really enjoyed my first experience on Boeing’s 787. The Dreamliner, coupled with Royal Brunei’s super attentive staff, made the trip from Melbourne to London a breeze. I’m not sure if it was the new technology or sleeping quite well that left me feeling a lot better than I normally do after a long-haul flight; though after nearly 27-hours of travel I am ready to stay on solid ground for a few days before flying back to Melbourne with a short stopover in Brunei.

During the flight I had some time to chat with some of Royal Brunei’s cabin crew to find out their opinion on the Dreamliner. One thing was evident when talking to each of the staff members was that they were excited to be flying onboard the Dreamliner and seemed passionate about the product.
“My skin, it feels so much nicer, less dry, after flying the 787,” one crew member assured me, while another reminded me about the smooth ride technology that assisted pilots in detecting and then adjusting the wings to minimise turbulence, something much appreciated during meal service by both crew and passengers.


Come on Nicole, does the Dreamliner offer a better flight experience?

In a word, yes.

It was the little things that made my experience onboard the Dreamliner a little bit better.
It was the sense of space, reducing the sense of claustrophobia and the air quality onboard. It was flying through turbulence but seeming to glide over gently instead of feeling like I was stuck on a rollercoaster and having that extra inch or two of space to relax.

The jury is still out if the Dreamliner is quieter than other aircrafts. On one leg I thought it sounded louder than usual and the other legs quieter. I’m waiting for my return journey to decide.

What about the claims that the Dreamliner can reduce jet lag? Landing in London I am usually knocked out for two to three days with jet lag; I’ll go to bed at 8pm and wake up near midday. This time, I had an early night the evening I landed but was up and ready to begin exploring London by 9am. I want to say that it was because of the Dreamliner’s technology but I’m waiting for my return flight to decide.

Does Boeings Dreamliner 787 offer a better flying experience? I really think it does.


Now it’s over to you

Would you choose a particular airline or flight to experience a certain aircraft?

What would you like to see Boeing engineers do to improve your inflight experience?

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Read flight reviews from on board the Dreamliner!

Royal Brunei Airlines

Scoot Biz

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My original trip onboard was arranged by Royal Brunei Airlines and Boeing.
Since this time, I’ve had the pleasure of flying the Dreamliner again.

All thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own.
(I am a huge Boeing fan – the 747-800 is my favourite plane – but I have tried to remain impartial in my write up…)

All images are owned by Royal Brunei Airlines, except for the bathroom sensor and bidet image.

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  • Reply
    Lauren @ Sweet Home Australia
    July 2, 2014 at 1:25 pm

    Really interesting post! I’ve always wondered what it’s like to fly in the Dreamliner. Did you notice any improvements with the in-flight food/beverage service? I’m sure it depends on the airline, but I wonder if they’ve been able to squeeze in any extra features into the galley area. I hope to see the day when espresso machines are standard… 🙂

    • Reply
      June 17, 2015 at 4:14 pm

      Lauren, espresso machines are standard on Alitalia aren’t they?

  • Reply
    July 2, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    I flew Dreamliner almost 2 years ago on my way to/from China (I took Qatar Airways then) and so far it was the best airpline I’ve ever been in. Even after 10 hours flight I was all ready to explore Doha and on both way I had no jetlag at all. I’d say it’s the best plane for long distance journeys!

  • Reply
    Anna Johnston
    July 2, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    Oh thats coooooool! I hadn’t really thought about the type plane I was flying in until now, interesting, and it’d be great to fly with less bumps too. No way, they have figured out how to reduce jet lag? Now that is worth flying with The Dreamliner. 🙂

  • Reply
    Sammi Wanderlustin'
    July 4, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    I flew on one of Norwegian’s dreamliner’s about a year ago. It was the best flight I had, I can’t say more than that because I slept from the second I got on the plane until I was woken by a staff member to put my belt back on (I’d managed to wangle 3 seats all to myself and as I am 4ft nothing spread across the lot). Sleeping through an entire flight is entirely unusual for me as I have a fear of flying, so all I can say is it must’ve been pretty awesome for me to sleep all the way through.

  • Reply
    Zoe @ Tales from over the Horizon
    July 5, 2014 at 12:34 am

    They look really neat. I’ve never thought about the type of plane I fly in before – I have no real idea if I have flown in one or not. Neat post!

  • Reply
    July 6, 2014 at 1:59 pm

    I flew on one of the new Dreamliners from Mumbai to Frankfurt and I loved the experience. The cabins were more comfortable, the storage was spacious, and the lighting system helped me sleep better. I’m hoping more airlines start upgrading their fleets!

  • Reply
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    July 11, 2014 at 5:02 am

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    […] and offering exceptional service. This piqued my interest even more when they told me about the Dreamliner – Boeing’s newest airplane that was more environmentally friendly, offered mood […]

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    August 15, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    I’ll be flying the Melbourne to London route with RBA next week and can’t wait to test out all the new features onboard the Dreamliner! Great review!

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    March 11, 2015 at 4:31 pm

    Great Review. I have flown on the Dreamliner with Ethiopian from DC to Addis. It was a great experience and you could really tell the difference between the Dreamliner and the 777. It would compare the experience of the Dreamliner to the A380.

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    March 29, 2015 at 3:35 am

    Damn!!! That’s so oooooooooolalacious. I can’t wait to be in one. Thank God Ethiopian Airlines and Qatar Airways are already servicing their busy Johannesburg – Addis and Johannesburg – Doha routes respectively with them.

  • Reply
    June 25, 2015 at 3:09 pm

    What an enjoyable flight with my family on Butterfly Dreamliner for 3 times. What an awesome experience It’s so comfortable. I love the seafood meal and the entertainment with good selections of movie to choose. We really enjoyed the flights and we just realized that we’re in our destination when the plane touched down the airport runway 🙂

  • Reply
    July 1, 2015 at 10:54 am

    Interesting you made no mention of the food or entertainment on board, and the obvious drawback of Royal Brunei being a dry, albeit BYO, airline. (They don’t serve any grog but apparently you can bring your own).

    • Reply
      July 1, 2015 at 5:02 pm

      Hi John,

      I wrote two posts about my Dreamliner experience. You can read more about my Royal Brunei experience here.

      Personally, I wouldn’t say that being a ‘dry airline’ is a drawback. Not everyone drinks when flying (I for one rarely do), but yes – you can bring Duty Free Alcohol onboard. Just be warned that you are scanned again before boarding your connecting flight, so wait for the last leg or bring mini’s 😉

  • Reply
    August 9, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    I just flew on a Dreamliner for the second time and it was a great flight! Definitely forward-thinking when it comes to flight comforts.

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    August 17, 2018 at 4:53 am

    Worst flying experience ever!! We got the cheap seats on Virgin Atlantic’s Dreamliner from NYC to Healthrow. I wish I’d paid more. The ‘steerage class’ as I now call is has the most rediculously uncomfortable seats. No legroom at all and the padding was so thin my body hurt. My hubby can sleep anywhere and always sleeps on flights. He could not sleep at all on this one. I was unlucky to be in the middle seat. I had to hold my arms together to avoid them hanging into the other seats. I’m not a big person either! The food was so so and the crew seemed rushed and a little indifferent. Ambient lightning, better air, and a quieter ride did not help us overcome jet lag. The lack of sleep on the night flight led to sheer exhaustion the next day. Never again!!!

    • Reply
      August 24, 2018 at 1:06 am

      That’s so disappointing to hear that VA’s Dreamliner is uncomfortable! Wishing you both better luck on your next overnight flight.

  • Reply
    April 21, 2019 at 9:33 pm

    we just flew from Muscat to Heathrow.the Dreamliner is so uncomfortable could not sleep.if the passenger in front of you puts their seat back you cannot get up.oman air cabin crew were great and the meals were OK.

    • Reply
      April 24, 2019 at 6:42 am

      Hi Trevor,
      Thanks for sharing your experience. I’ve heard several people say Oman Air’s Dreamliners offer a somewhat average flying experience.
      Hoping to experience them for myself very soon (perhaps on a shorter route though!)

      I hope you have a more comfortable experience on an upcoming Dreamliner trip.

  • Reply
    June 9, 2020 at 1:47 am

    I just love Dreamliners

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